I am going to attempt to move the "What Is Bourbon?" debate over here from the "In Praise of Evan Williams 1990" topic where it started.
First, I went back and read the Regans' article in the most recent Malt Advocate.
Second, I thought about what John said and I think he's right. The key difference here is that Jim Beam is Jim Beam/Fortune Brands and Inovatec Corp. is, well, nobody.
Third, a question for John: Where did you get the information that McKendric can't call its product bourbon? The Regans don't say that explicitly. The name of the product as they reported it is McKendric Western Style Whiskey, but nowhere does it say they couldn't call it bourbon if they wanted to.
If I were making a whiskey that didn't really taste like what most people expect from bourbon, I probably wouldn't want to call it bourbon.
There is no real magic to the word "bourbon." That, at least, is a proposition in which Brown-Forman has invested millions (promoting Kentucky Whisky and Tennessee Whiskey). Jim Beam, on the other hand, has invested similar millions in the opposite proposition, that the word "bourbon" is a stamp of quality. As we informed drinkers know, it isn't. "Bourbon" is a set of specifications which, when met, entitle the producer to use that label. It is no assurance of quality. At best, it is an assurance of authenticity.
While we're wishing for the law to do something it doesn't, I wish it made the producers tell us more about where the whiskey comes from, how it was made, etc. I understand why Julian won't tell us where his whiskey is made, but I wish he would, simply because I would like to know.